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How to Build a Sales Team

Joanne Owens
Content writer @ Casual
Get a pre-made project plan based on this how-to guide.


Any business requires good resources, including the human ones. Good salespeople or sales managers are difficult to find, and it is even harder to find an effective sales director. The salespeople of your company promote the company’s culture and are the key element of income. 

Therefore, it is essential to compose a sales team, which will not only perform its basic functions and follow the orders but will be also a driving force of your business activities. 

The following advice is aimed to ease and improve the process of building a sales team for your purposes. This advice will be in use if you need to build a sales team, which can deal with more leads entering the pipeline, which can increase the volume of sales when necessary, and which can develop in a cost-effective way according to sales performance.

Set up sales management process

Sales management is the coordination of resources for the effective production of the desired goal. The long term goals can be various, however, the key ones are always the same, namely, to increase sales volume, to contribute to profits, and to continue growth. The process of achievement of these goals includes many responsibilities if the sales manager, such as forecasting of demand/sales, budgeting, setting goals, organization, training, recruitment, compensation, and sales performance management. The key role of sales management is to manage the sales people rather than to manage sales.
Since the sales managers perform one of the essential roles in any company, they organize and control the sales team in order to achieve effective productivity. The sales management covers the following tasks:

Plan the sales

It involves setting goals for the work of sales team, including overall sales objectives, the forecast of demand/sales and strategy development.

Plan your sales management strategies

A successful sales strategy is the key to gain profitable revenue growth. Therefore, the main task of any sales manager is to develop such winning sales strategy.

Actually, the strategy has to answer three core questions:
—Whom to sell?
— What to sell?
— How to sell?

Put another way, the sales strategy is the customer segments, which are the targets of a company, its structure of sales force, its value propositions, and its related selling processes. Unfortunately, many sales managers have no understanding of specific opportunities and do not comply with the core strategy. If you have no defined growth opportunities, it is much more difficult to plan a winning sales strategy.
For your attention, some essential sales management tips for productive sales management strategies are introduced:

1. Recognize and adapt the approach complying with the needs of your reps. 
2. Commit spending time with your sales reps on a regular basis. 
3. Make a workable plan, in order to provide a successful sales process. This includes the following activities: hiring, the creation of defined steps, collection, and analysis of data. 
4. Provide coaching throughout the entire sales process. 
5. Analyze the key performance indicators, which will reveal the benefits and flaws of your sales management process.

Hire the salespeople

You should remember that hiring is an integral part of sales management process since the sales managers must analyze the HR demands, make job descriptions and interview the candidates.

Pick the types of salespeople

The hiring process can be even easier if you define what type of salesperson exactly you need.

Here are some options:

Manufacturer's Representative

The terms “manufacturer's rep, broker or agent” are used to describe independent sales reps, working on commission. They do not obtain a salary, but a percentage of their sales. It is a cost-effective alternative to a direct sales team for many large companies. The reps’ income depends on the volume of sales, therefore they know well their markets, make regular calls to leads and develop working relationships, in order to increase their profit.

Using reps is a good option with many benefits, including saving large fixed expenses, knowledge of local markets and access to large accounts. The disadvantage of using reps is that they usually work with various products, which can be competitive to yours. A typical rate of manufacturer's rep is 5 percent commission on sales, however, the rate may alter by virtue of the product type, market and volume of sales.

Telemarketers are the sales people contacting the customers by phone. Customer service, answering the questions and other activities are performed by phone too. The major advantage of telemarketers is a collection of qualified leads. The results of telemarketing effort are easy to track by phone numbers. A telemarketing operation can be built in-house or you can use a third-party call center services. There is no need to choose only one type of salespeople. Many companies effectively dispose of a combination of different sales forces, including telemarketers and sales reps.

Sales Managers

It is always difficult to shift responsibility to someone else, especially if it is an important management job. However, the sales manager is an essential part of the growth of your business. Thus, be prepared to hand over customers and delegate accounts to a sales manager, which has to lessen the load of your tasks. Hiring a sales manager will bring benefits to you, namely, you will decrease the number of your sales calls and will be able to handle other parts of the job, such as developing the company's strategy. 

What are the main attributes of a good sales manager? The key tasks of a successful sales manager have included the managing a sales team, development of sales strategies and plans, setting targets for the sales team, monitor sales performance, personal contact with key customers, preparation of sales and other reports, and other specific functions. 

Ideally, you need a sales manager with experience in selling and management. Computer or other technical skills, communication skills and proven record of sales growth are the necessary requirements to sales managers for a successful work.

Start with hiring right sales people

The recruitment process is the starting point of developing a sales team. The high-quality salespeople can bring fruits to the sales growth. Nevertheless, the hiring of salespeople also can have negative outcomes, since the improper salespeople can cause the decrease of profit and spoil the relationships with customers, resulting in deterioration of marketplace. As you see, the hiring people is the process, which should not be neglected or taken for granted. Thus, the right sales people will bring effectiveness, and the wrong ones can do harm to your business. 

You should not consider salespeople as the ones responsible for your bottom line development. They have a more important function by providing a daily contact with the customers. Salespeople are interlinked to build a successful sales team.

Describe job details

For a start, you should realize that there is no such concept of “bad salespeople”. There are cases, when good salespeople occupy the wrong positions, thereby doing more harm than use. To perform a recruitment of a proper salesperson, it is necessary to understand and describe the job. I.e., find out whether a particular sales position is intended to develop contacts for long-term perspective (sales cycle may last for months or years) or short-term sales generation. Do you need someone who will be able to close deals or to provide more consultative activities? Thus, the first stage of hiring good salespeople is to define the sales needs and selling style of your company. 

Pay attention to the fact that one of the main reasons of salespeople turnover and discontent is the misinterpretation of compensation plan of your company. Make sure that you properly and clearly explained the compensation process for all your potential members of a sales team. Besides, introduce the detailed information about your expectation of performance, trainings, and sales tools, which will be provided. The candidates should be aware of the market and the competition to deal with. Clear understanding of the company’s sales concepts and objectives is the prerequisite of future success.

Set your needs for a candidate

The next step is to describe your needs for a candidate. You know the image of a perfect salesperson you need in. Take into account all possible features, including personality, energy level, experience, abilities, and reputation. It is almost impossible to find the exact candidate, but if you know what you want, the probability of wrong hiring decision is lower.

Find the right salespeople

Now only, you can start searching for salespeople. Usually, the search process starts with some advertisements or job offers in media. Please, consider the other options: 
  • Make a search inside the company. Sometimes, the true pickups work in the wrong positions, and people working in various departments (technical, administrative, operations, support, etc.) may bring success in sales. Post the advertisement inside the company and who knows?
  • Ask your employees for suggestions. Your existing employees may know someone, who would be glad to join your team. It is quite a widespread practice of recruitment in the world.
  • Contact your colleagues, suppliers, advisors, social contacts and customers. It is a fast way to find candidates.
  • Address to professional associations, which may have offer candidates for your sales team.
  • Online advertising is also a good searching tool. Currently, the web provides numerous online job portals, filled with candidates.
  • Another interesting option is to hire a graduate with a good perspective to develop a prominent sales person. Contact your local college to search for candidates.
  • The most simplified option is the headhunter's services. Their business is searching for the required candidates. However, if a labor market is tight, it may be worth the cost to find a salesperson.

Do sales reporting

Sales management also deals with development and analysis of key performance indicators. The understanding of these indicators improves the productivity of managers. The evaluation of performance is executed on various levels of organization structure, starting with the sales manager individual estimate.

Measure sales productivity

The simplest way of measuring sales productivity is a number of sales in money terms per salesperson. The formula is quite simple – divide the sales volume by a number of salespeople. The result is an average figure of sales productivity, showing the efficiency of the average salesperson in your company. Of course, the average value is not the accurate indicator, therefore it is more useful to know the individual efficiency of each salesperson. For example, some sales reps have a large productivity, which in average terms reduces due to the low productivity of others. This information let you know whether any changes in the sales team are required.
In the wide sense, sales productivity includes not only a simple formula but also the customer satisfaction with services and products. For example, your salespeople may give promises they cannot implement, or overload the production and delivery departments of the company. This sales productivity has a long-term value and cannot be measured at once. In order to reveal such cases, check your salespeople whether they have large numbers of returns or sell to customers without credit checks. It is essential to find such salespeople because they could bring more harm than you suppose.

Get rid of the ballast

Naturally, there is no guarantee that every sales rep you hire will be successful. Time is not only money in the world of sales, but a deal killer too. It means that a weak link in your sales team will reduce the overall productivity. The longer you are waiting, the more losses your company may experience. You have to be fast to pull the trigger, not literally of course.

Avoid desperate people for your sales team, it won’t be good. You may find someone with great papers and referrals. In time, he or she begin to act weird, claiming on some challenges or testing terms. And if a person talks about promotion a month or so after its employment, you should think twice whether you need this specialist. It is meritoriously when a person has the anxiety to work, and it is harmful if such anxiety refers to have a job position. Such person has to leave.
It is recommended not to delay what is inevitable. If you know it, just do it and make it as fast as possible to prevent negative sequences with your customers, employees or partners. You make thousands of decisions to improve your business and firing someone is one of them. It is not about some personal issues and emotional effects, but about the efficiency of work. And if this efficiency tends to null, you have to say thank you and goodbye. Looking at another side, firing will have some benefits, including the free up of budget and opportunity to engage new specialists. Fire fast and save your time.

Set the sales manager’s goals

A sales manager is the person to be involved in goal setting for both the sales people and itself. Setting goals is a powerful exercise for building sales. A successful sales manager strives to manage sales team with motivating and well-defined goals. Besides, he or she uses sales team building exercises or sales team building games to improve the environment inside the sales team. And what about the goals for the sales manager itself? Usually, the combination of performance goals of a sales team compose the goals of a manager. He or she is managing sales team, hence his/hers goals are the sum of goals of each sales person. The main question of a sales manager is how to manage a sales team. However, the sales manager goals are divided into personal development and activity goals.

Define types of goals

Activity goals

Activity goals relate to the business activities of the manager, such as working with each salesperson within a day per month, a phone call to each sales rep once a week, conducting a planning meeting, developing a personal link with salespeople and others. The characteristic of these goals is that it is not measured by results. Actually, there are the results of activity goals, but nothing except for the manager can measure them. The activity goals are necessary to spend energy of a sales manager in different ways. They bring benefits to the growth of the sales manager’s productivity, keeping him or her focused on the objectives, which bring results.
Personal development goals

The second type of goals is associated with personal development. These goals are aimed at becoming better and development of some personal skills. They include various improvement of skills such as an acquisition of competencies, addition of knowledge, participation in training or learning activities.

  • Job-related skills improvement. A sales manager may decide to improve a skill of coaching a sales team. This skill requires practice and time, and the result will have a direct impact on the sales manager’s job. 
  • Acquisition of collateral abilities. These skills determine the value of sales manager to the company. They all relate to the improvement of some current job skills, for example, the development of sales management strategies. It does not mean that a manager often uses this skill, but he has a competency, which increases his or her value to the company. 
  • New knowledge. This point does not require an additional explanation – it is about learning new things and information. There is a difference between knowledge and skill. Knowledge involves some information, e.g., some market segment or a certain product. You acquire new information when improving knowledge. Improvement of skills requires some actions from a person, such as management ability. The successful sales manager needs both to become more valuable and competent. 
  • Learning activities. Sometimes, a sales manager can perform self-development by executing learning activities. There are many seminars and workshops, which make a person confident in their usefulness.

Use the sales management tools

Nowadays, the development companies provide tons of sales management tools to be used by the most prominent sales managers throughout their activities. These tools are designed to ease and lessen the burden of responsibilities and numerous tasks of sales reps. The number of such tools amounts to hundreds or even thousands, and each of them has one aim – to make the sales management work more efficient.

Some of the tools are specific to one or several activities, therefore it is important to consider the volume of your operations.

There are tools, which can centralize the processes of your company in a cloud, enabling access to the data from any point anytime.

The other ones are designed to improve your communication activities by integration with your inbox and/or calendar.
A separate niche is occupied by the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools, which combine several functions for your better work with the customers. All your emails, tasks, calls, schedules become a single system, which works like a Swiss watch. You save much time and, therefore, money, and receive an increased efficiency of your efforts. 

In the modern time of business, the sales management tools are an integral part of any sales person activities. 

Hopefully, now you will know how to build a successful sales team and how to manage a sales team in the most efficient way. Follow the advice above and improve your sales business activities.
Story by
Joanne Owens
Content writer @ Casual